SALIVA’s Bobby Amaru – A Sober Look At Life and Death

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l to r: Wayne Swinny, Brad Stewart, Sammi Jo Bishop & Bobby Amaru

Tennessee-based rock band Saliva, released their new album titled Revelation on September 8th. Not only is this their first album since the pandemic it is also a nostalgic and heartfelt goodbye to their late guitarist Wayne Swinny who passed away in March after suffering a brain hemorrhage. This new album embodies a much heavier sound than fans have heard on previous records, but it also immortalizes Swinny’s talents as both a songwriter and guitarist. There is profound significance in this album because it’s Swinny’s final album and it serves as a testament to his enduring passion and creativity even in the face of mortality. Revelation has encapsulated his musical legacy and empowers the band to continue to push boundaries even in Wayne’s absence. He will never be forgotten. His imprint will live on forever. The band’s current line-up includes; vocalist Bobby Amaru, former Shinedown and Fuel bassist Brad Stewart and drummer Sammi Jo Bishop.  The band is not ready to permanently replace Swinny, but have enlisted the skills of his guitar tech, Josh Kulack to sit in for the time being.

Taking time out of his morning on a short trip to Alaska, lead singer Amaru sat down with us to discuss the new album, Swinny’s legacy, surviving quarantine as a recovering addict and how he is involved with his daughter’s music. “Revelation is the first record we have put out since pre-pandemic days and the last one with Wayne. It symbolizes the end result of a chaotic period that led us all to reflect on life” Amaru says.  “When we initially began working on the album, we aimed for a heavier sound and despite having planned to release it in 2020, the pandemic disrupted those plans. We shifted our focus to family and safety during that time period. I ended up doing a lot of writing which included a solo record for me. We also explored various ideas for cover songs and considered just putting out a cover record but we kept on writing original music. I think going into it, I just wanted to make a great record and focus song by song. That’s kind of how we approached it. I just didn’t think it was gonna take three years for it to come out,” Amaru says with a chuckle.

“The emotions of writing during a time of personal change and global events influenced my lyrics. Sobriety played a role too, and I wanted to bring hope through the music. The pandemic gave us time to refine the record’s details and create a better version and releasing it after the pandemic seemed like a good choice. I felt like having to relive it and going through a lot of the emotions of writing coupled with everything going on in the world at the time reflects on this album. I’ve been sober for almost five years now but during that time it was only a little under two years, so I was kind of going through a lot of things and then all that stuff happening is transparent in the lyrics, but I also wanted to convey more than that. I feel like being sober was also good and I had the mentality of overcoming it and that we could all overcome this. I just had hope for everything to get better because life is crazy but you’ve gotta find the light at the end of the tunnel somehow and embrace it.” In comparison to their other albums, Amaru says that the vibe shifted. Prior to the pandemic they had tour dates set up and had the mindset to get the record done but once everything shut down they decided to take their time with it and the band felt a much better record came out of that versus just rushing it according to Amaru. It allowed them the time to focus more on the details of the songwriting. “I think everything happens for a reason and a lot of bands started releasing everything and we didn’t want to get caught up in the mix. It was more important for us to just take our time and when the time was right we would release it. Originally we had considered putting the record out in July but when Wayne passed away in March, I decided to change the album artwork and move the release date,” Amaru recalls.  Swinny’s passing was like a punch to the gut for Amaru and the rest of the band. There is no way to replace him and albeit a difficult subject to talk about, that void will always remain an open wound. Revelation is the last album Swinny contributed to and as Amaru reaches deep, he reveals Swinny’s guitar work on some of the new songs is incredible. Because this album is so guitar-driven, Amaru did his best to preserve that element citing Swinny as a guitar hero type of guy. 

When Amaru replaced Josey Scott as lead vocalist in 2012, Saliva already had 16 years of success under their belt and was in the process of writing their eighth album In It To Win It. Amaru tells us about the evolution of the writing process and his journey to becoming part of the band. “I came into a band that I had already liked. A band that had already done a lot of stuff in the previous years. Even though I had a lot of involvement in the first record we did together, we all kind of collectively did it as one. We moved into a house in Nashville and recorded In It To Win It but we have always approached every record differently. Even though we hadn’t put out original music since 2018, which is quite a while, I think it still gave us the time we needed. So much happened between 2018 and the release of Revelation.” Amaru has always used his experiences with addiction and his journey through sobriety as inspiration for his lyrics and confessed that he has also looked to other people’s experiences with addiction as a means of inspiration. Saliva’s song High on Me which is the fourth track on Revelation is based on a friend of his and her struggles with addiction. The isolation and disruptions caused by the quarantine became an even bigger challenge for people like Amaru who struggle with addiction despite being in recovery. He was forced to really reach down deep during that time to keep his head clear and keep himself distracted. “This was a time when we were all kind of having to look in the mirror and re-evaluate ourselves. You always want to outdo your previous albums, that was the goal with Revelation. I think bands have a bit more freedom in what they are doing and because of that, the feeling of the label looking over your shoulder and expecting you to put out songs that sound like everyone else is not as prominent. It allows us to be true to our sound and express our own art in the way we want to.” 

“I will say getting sober was the greatest achievement of my last 12 years of being in this band. It made me feel like just a better person overall.”

Amaru’s road to sobriety has granted him wisdom over the years and has given him a platform to provide support and a source of inspiration to his fans…or anyone struggling with addiction. “Just know that there are people that do care about you and there are people that love you. That was kind of the way that I was looking at it when I wanted to get sober. I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my wife, I’ve got people who love me and care about me. I, I just don’t wanna live like this and I want to be there for my family. I have to be the role model and the person that keeps it together so that was important for me. But everybody’s different. I don’t walk in anyone else’s shoes or know what they’re going through or how to tell them what they should do. I think you have to want those things and want to better your life. I will say getting sober was the greatest achievement of my last 12 years of being in this band. It made me feel like just a better person overall. And it just made me feel like I have a positive outlook on everything” Amaru conveys.

Amaru & Swinny

On September 14th, Saliva started the SNAFU Le Tour with Drowning Pool and special guests Adelitas Way and Any Given Sin. “I am really looking forward to getting out there and playing. It has been a crazy year, so getting out there and playing in front of the fans is going to be awesome. Everyone has been so supportive through everything since Wayne passed in March,” Amaru shares. Despite being a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, Amaru has been sporting a Raiders jersey on stage to remember and pay tribute to Wayne. “I feel like he is up there laughing and if he were still here Wayne would never let me live that down.” Amaru went on to share how Swinny’s death has impacted him. “I know he would want the show to go on. He and I were always having these talks and he always told me he wanted us to keep doing this. He was a character. His whole persona. He was just a great human. In the 12 years I knew him, he was like an older brother or a dad. Anytime I asked him for advice, he would tell me what he thought and then we would remind him it might not be the best advice coming from him. He knew how to make a joke out of anything. You can’t replace him so we had to find someone who could just fill the role for now. He (Kulack) worked on our last three tours and we knew that it was the right time to put the record out. We wanted to go out and celebrate [Wayne] and honor him the right way so there’s a kid that filled in for him during a few other shows and stuff back during Covid when Wayne had Covid. This kid [came] from a band that had opened for us. He just kind of came in and helped us out a little bit so we’ve just been having him do it lately. In all honesty, I’m not trying to find anybody to take his spot in the same way just yet. That is just not on my radar right now. I’d rather just go out and honor him with the new record and do a tour. I know he had cared a lot about this kid and he was with us when Wayne passed away. He was on the bus with us and was working for us at the time. So I feel like Wayne would’ve wanted that too. If I were to look up and say “Hey, Wayne, who’s gonna fill your shoes on this tour? I feel like he would’ve picked him.”

Bobby Amaru

Prior to joining Saliva, Amaru had his own solo music career he was pursuing and he had started writing another solo album while the quarantine was happening. He isn’t sure when he wants to release a solo record but it is done and it has a ton of songs. “I’ve just got a lot on my plate at the moment but I will probably release it sooner than later.” Believe it or not, Amaru didn’t start off as a vocalist. He started on drums and then went from drums to learning guitar, and then singing kind of came later. “I was a shy, quiet kid. and I didn’t ever think that I was going to be a singer. I think that came later in life. When I figured out I could sing, or maybe, I still don’t know if I can but I’m still trying to figure it out. I credit 80’s rock to classic rock to bands like Alice In Chains.  I loved them and loved a lot of the ’90s movement. I listened to Candlebox and Silverchair all through the ’90s I’ve got to admit that 1990 to 2000 is the best decade of rock n’ roll music, I love the ’80s stuff too, but I feel like the decade between 1990 and 2000 was the decade when the best records came out. If you Google albums during that time you would be amazed. It’s unreal. It was such a great time of music in my opinion. And we will never see a decade like that ever again. We’ve  got the music though that lives on and we can just keep jamming to those songs.”

Veda & Bobby Amaru

Amaru’s daughter Veda has started following her father’s footsteps and the two have been collaborating on TikTok. “I’m excited for her,” Amaru proudly expresses. “I’ve worked with her for some time now, but I never wanted to force her into it. I always wanted her to discover her talents and what she wanted to pursue on her own. I wasn’t surprised though when she started to come to me about doing music. I’m just proud of her and that she’s finding her voice. She’s growing up right before my eyes. A lot of the songs she is doing she had never heard before and I’m finding myself singing songs with her that I never thought I would sing. Being able to cover these hits that people love and being able to connect with her through music is great. She’s still at the age where she wants me around and I’m still considered the cool dad.” 

Amaru closes the interview letting us in on plans for the band. “After this tour, we may take the rest of the year off. We already have some plans in the spring and we have been getting in touch with a few bands for a possible package tour so there is a lot to look forward to. 

Wayne Swinny GoFundMe: Fundraiser by Bobby Amaru : Let’s help Wayne Swinny and Family (gofundme.com)

Tour Info: TOUR DATES – Saliva (Official Band Website) (salivaofficial.com)

5 thoughts on “SALIVA’s Bobby Amaru – A Sober Look At Life and Death

  1. Wayne Swinney was an awesome guy. I met him through Legends Pub and venue 3-4 times. He was a character for sure and we all miss him, but like Bobby says he would want the show to continue on. RIP Wayne.

  2. My Name Is Bobby Angell I’m in the same boat Bobby amaru is in. When I was 7yrs old I learned that I could sing wanted to pursue it but never did than at the age of 17 I learned I could write music lyrics that is they just come to me pretty much anywhere. Bobby Amaru is a great example of following your dreams never give up because eventually that dream will find you. Im 40yrs old now got covers on tiktok believing that one day I will be noticed.

    • Hey Bobby, thanks for the comments and for reading Screamer Magazine. Love your spirit and tenacity! And if making music makes you happy then you’ve already realized your dream. Keep at it and good luck!

  3. Awesome band, I’m almost 60 now, sober since I was 26 , i gotta say music is my best friend, everywhere”it’s all inside my head….” rest in peace Wayne Swinney, my sympathy and respect to family and friends. I first heard “Ladies and Gentleman” a couple years ago and now listen to much more. “Click Click Boom” is my go to, it’s on a fine line between metal and hip hop that I’ve never heard before, it’s really amazing. Take Care All, One Day At A Time. – Marty Swalinkavich.

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